Where am I from?

All my life I’ve moved around. My parents were missionaries and so we moved to where they took seminary and then we moved to the Phillipines and Indonesia, and then, with a job change, we moved to Honduras. From there we moved to Minnesota, then to Florida and then to California. I then moved back to Florida, then to Georgia, and finally up to North Carolina. All in total I’ve lived in over 30 different houses. Why do I start with this? I’ve been in North Carolina now longer than I’ve ever been in one place before. Having lived a gypsy like life, I could look forward to moving again in the future. I loved starting off in some place new. It was always a fresh start. New places to see, new friends to meet, new things to do.
Living in one place has been a growing up thing for me. I discovered a few years ago that I couldn’t count on getting that “fresh start”. I actually had to be careful not to burn any bridges, because I might need to go across them again. Really, it was an eye opener. Now if I don’t like someone I can’t just say what I want and move on. I might see them again at the store. Heaven forbid, our children might want to play together.
I know most people don’t understand living in different places. Most people around me, now, have been in the area for years, sometimes for generations. When people ask me where I’m from, I’m not sure what to tell them. Born in Georgia but didn’t live there for very long? They want to know where my accent comes from. The world? Sometimes I miss being able to start anew. Sometimes I can’t imagine having to pick up and move again.
What’s so good about moving around anyway? The places I’ve seen! The people I’ve met! The cultures I’ve been apart of! I remember being the only “white” girl around. The old ladies especially liked to pinch my cheeks with a twist to see them redden. I remember learning not to shake hands with someone with my left hand because it was rude. (You really don’t want to know what some people do with their left hands.) I remember lying on the floor of the bed room because it was Independence Day and everyone outside was shooting guns into the air. I remember playing with the kids in the neighborhood, all of us running around naked or half-naked because we were still young enough to get away with it. I remember sitting in my dad’s lap while he and my mom were taking language lessons. I remember going on a flight with my dad to get me to a doctor who could make me better. We had to spend the night in a hotel because the plane was delayed. (I had an undiagnosed abscess in my mouth and was apparently so sick my parents were getting scared. I can still taste the nastiness when they cleaned it out.) I’ve seen the top and inside of an active volcano; parents bathing their children in the hot springs that were flowing down the sides. I’ve seen the sacrificial stone where many a head was chopped off in years past.
Most people I know have never been where history books speak of. Most people I know don’t see things like I do. Racism? What’s it like to be the minority color? Poverty? What’s it like to live with people whose houses were made of thatch? Whose bathrooms were the river? People who knew nothing about germs and cleanliness? People who had one outfit and one pair of sandals? Who slept on the floor and bought their food a day or two at a time because they had no refrigeration? We were surrounded by them.
I do miss living in different places. Living in one place, though, does have its benefits. Later on that, though. Good night!

2 thoughts on “Where am I from?

  1. As we contemplate moving, I agree with what you wrote. Fresh starts, new places, new people, new experiences…but not sure I want to uproot everything that has become normal. Never knew you’ve been so many places. Thanks for sharing your life and giving me some more food for thought as I mentally try to begin processing the moving process.

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